As we head into the winter months and spend more time indoors, it’s vital to get up to date on the seasonal flu vaccine, as well as COVID-19 vaccines and boosters. We’ve pulled together the latest information from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC), so you know where, when, and how to get the protection you need to stay healthy.
Before COVID-19, seasonal flu vaccination was the most important annual vaccination for most of us to get. According to the U.S. CDC, flu vaccination prevents millions of illnesses and flu-related provider visits each year. The CDC estimates that from 2019-2020, the flu vaccination prevented 7.5 million influenza illnesses, 3.7 million influenza-associated medical visits, 105,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations, and 6,300 influenza-associated deaths.
The U.S. and Maine CDCs recommend that people six months and older get an annual flu vaccine as early in the fall as possible. If you haven’t already done so, call your primary care provider (PCP) or your local pharmacy to schedule your flu vaccination today. The good news is that Health Options makes the flu vaccine available at $0 cost-share to Members, and you can receive a flu shot at the same time as a COVID-19 shot if you still need one.
Also, COVID-19 boosters are available to everyone aged 18 and older – just in time for holiday gatherings. The latest (CDC) booster recommendations are:
You can get your booster shot anywhere that provides the COVID-19 vaccine. You may hear directly from your healthcare provider about getting a booster, or you may contact the locations linked below for an appointment. Many locations also offer drop-in vaccinations with no appointment necessary.
For a final piece of vaccination news, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is now widely available for individuals aged 5 and older throughout Maine. As the Delta variant continues to be a prominent strain, vaccination is the safest way to protect against severe illness in children and adults.
It’s also important to continue protecting unvaccinated children ages two and older, who should wear a mask in public spaces and around people with whom they do not live.
If you need help scheduling an appointment, or want to know if a site near you offers vaccinations without an appointment, call the Maine COVID-19 Community Vaccination Line at (888) 445-4111. You may also search for COVID-19 vaccine availability here: Maine vaccination sites.
Your health, well-being, and safety are our priorities. Please call our Member Services at (855) 624-6463 for more information about vaccines and other preventive care benefits.
Beyond routine care and wellness, one of the major reasons for having health insurance is to protect yourself and your family in case of serious illness or injury. At Health Options, our medical management approach ensures that you also have a team of healthcare experts at your side in times of a serious medical crisis. In addition, our Care Managers are here for everyday wellness questions and at every step of recovery after a major medical incident.
Our Care Management Team partners with local agencies to find the help our Members need, from financial assistance to transportation, housing, and other issues affecting wellness and recovery. On-staff medical, pharmacy and healthcare experts help Members access medication and durable medical equipment, receive authorization support and assistance with provider outreach, and drug formulary education. The team also makes outbound calls to our Members to assist with chronic illness support or to provide post-discharge coordination from hospital stays. This collaborative approach to medical management focuses on improving care, creating positive health outcomes, and reducing the total cost of care.
What does a medical management approach look like to our Members? On a day-to-day basis, our in-house pharmacy team keeps Members updated about drug recall changes in medication availability and ways to access prescription medications at lower costs. Our team will also reach out to encourage immunizations, wellness visits, and other low-cost, or $0 cost-share benefits that can help our Members live their healthiest lives. In cases of hospitalizations and transitions to home, our medical management’s Site of Care Program offers Members the option to transition certain medications and infusions to a preferred site of care, including in-home care.
If a Member needs extra care for a particular condition, our team is instrumental in securing assistance. For example, one Member of our asthma outreach program had concerns about her condition combined with possible COVID-19 symptoms when the virus first emerged. Her COVID-19 symptoms kept her from seeing her primary care provider. After using a walk-in clinic for testing to determine she was COVID-19 negative, she continued to have a cough, low-grade fever, and fatigue. Our Care Management team was able to quickly find her an in-network pulmonologist who treated her with antibiotics for suspected pneumonia. She also had her asthma medications adjusted, and her condition improved.
Our hands-on strategies have resulted in more than $12.1+ million saved through Care Management programs since 2017, a 48 percent total reduction in our hospital readmission rate from 2018 to 2020. Our Script Saver program, led by in-house pharmacists, provided personal outreach to Members that led to out-of-pocket savings of $98,000 on medications in 2020. All of these efforts combined help improve health and reduce costs for our Members.
Call us if you have a question about prescription drug costs, need support for an upcoming medical procedure, or have a serious medical crisis. Our medical management team is in your corner, and they can be reached through Member Services at (855)624-6463, or use our secure email messaging.